A common question I get is “do you need tickets for the Sistine Chapel?”
You do. In fact, in order to visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums you are better off getting pre-purchased tickets. Tickets to the Sistine Chapel are actually sold at the door, but the availability is very limited and you may stand in line for a long time only to find out that tickets are sold out once you get to the ticket desk.
With the amount of tourists visiting Rome every day and wishing to admire the Sistine Chapel, you will be significantly better off purchasing tickets to the Sistine Chapel for a specific time slot. In other words, you have to plan your visit in advance – in fact, well in advance I shall add.
However, with the amount of information available online, deciding which ticket or tour to get may be confusing.
In this post, I will explain how you can get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and make the most of your time there. Let’s first see what’s so special about the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican and why you should not miss them on your trip to Rome.
Why Visit The Sistine Chapel In Rome
Let me clarify that the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are actually not in Rome, but in Vatican City. However, as this is at the center of Rome, you can easily visit during your trip to the Italian capital.
Together with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel is the most famous site in Vatican City. This is where Michelangelo painted his masterpiece, The Last Judgement, more than 500 years ago.
Right next to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums display the enormous collection of art accumulated by the various popes throughout the centuries.
If you enjoy fine arts, there is no way you want to skip the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums.
Visiting The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Originally known as Cappella Magna, it takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who initiated restoration works in 1477 and used it for both religious purposes and for his functions as pope.
Nowadays, the Sistine Chapel is the site of the Papal Conclave, the process through which a new pope is elected.
What makes it such a popular place to visit is the many incredible frescoes that adorn it. These include works of Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Ghirlandaio.
Yet, it’s The Last Judgement, painted on the ceiling by Michelangelo between 1535 and 1541 upon request of Pope Clement VII and Paul III, that attracts visitors every day.
I recommend getting a guided tour for your visit of the Sistine Chapel. For as nice as it is to just raise your head and appreciate the beauty of all the frescoes, it’s great to have someone that helps you put everything in context and get a better understanding of the historical, cultural and artistic value of what you are seeing.
The Vatican Museums
Located right next to the Sistine Chapel and usually visited before getting to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums have a formidable collection of religious and art works – from Roman sculptures to masterpieces of Renaissance art.
The Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, and have a whopping 54 galleries. Not only they are among the largest museums in the world, but they also are one of the most visited.
Tickets to the Sistine Chapel include admission to the Vatican Museums.
How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums
More than 25,000 people visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums every day. It’s one of the most famous places to visit in the world.
Unfortunately, this also one of the world’s 10 worst tourist attractions for lines. Until a few years ago, waiting time could be up to four hours and lines could go all the way around the walls of Vatican City, with people waiting patiently in the sun and even under the rain.
The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are even more packed than usual when passengers of cruise ships are in town. If you want to avoid them, go between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, when most of the group tours are having lunch. Either way, get tickets in advance.
Now, pre-purchased tickets for designated time slots are available to visit the Sistine Chapel. One thing to be aware of, however, is that no matter what ticket you get, you’re bound to stand in line for the security checks. Beware of companies that suggest you may avoid these lines.
Continue reading to discover where to buy Sistine Chapel tickets, the Sistine Chapel tickets price, and a lot of other useful information.
Way n. 1: Get tickets via the official Vatican website
This is the Sistine Chapel tickets official website. This is where to buy Sistine Chapel tickets if you only want plain tickets. The prices of tickets to the Sistine Chapel bought on the official website are as follows:
Children between 6 and 18 years old €8 (proof of ID requested).
Online booking fee €5.
In other words, tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums bought online on the official website cost €22 for adults and €13 for children.
To get your Sistine Chapel ticket, click on the word “ticket” in the left hand side of the screen so that the search bar will open in the screen. Select the option “Museums and Vatican Collections” and hit enter. A new page will open, in Italian. On the right hand side of the screen change the language again into English.
Select the day of your visit, and the number of visitors and click on “confirm”.
You will then be able to see all the available options (as well as whether your preferred option is sold out). Options include plain admission tickets, guided tours, admission to the museums with breakfast or lunch etc. Plain admission tickets are the cheapest ones and the first that get sold out.
Once you select your preferred option on the date you intend to visit, you will be taken to a new page that gives you the available time slots. Morning time slots are the first that get sold out.
Once you finally buy the tickets, you will be sent a confirmation email with a PDF which you can either print or show on your smartphone.
You can only buy these tickets up to 60 days in advance and for a maximum of 10 persons. You will have to pick a time slot for your visit, too. Modifications to the reservations are available once (which means you can change the name or date of your booking), but once you purchase the ticket you can’t get a refund.
You are given a 15 minutes time window within which you have to be at the museum.
Way n. 2: Get tickets to the Sistine Chapel via a third party site
Plain skip-the-line tickets to the Sistine Chapel are the best option if you like the idea of doing your own thing, and these are also available on third party booking sites such as GetYourGuide or Tiqets.
Much like tickets sold on the official site, you can even add an audio guide for some guidance, which gives you the possibility to explore the museum at your own pace, skip the parts that you are not interested in, and linger a bit longer on those that catch your attention.
Getting tickets via a third party site is very easy – the sites are very user friendly. This is not the only advantage though.
Third party bookings sites will be your best resource if you are looking for last minute tickets, which is perfect if yours is a more spontaneous or last minute trip.
In fact, and contrary to the official website, you can even purchase Sistine Chapel tickets on third party booking sites well ahead of 60 days prior to your intended visit day, which is great if you are the kind of person that likes planning everything well in advance.
Tickets to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum on third party site are a bit more expensive than those sold on official site, but the difference in price is just a matter of a few Euro.
Another advantage is that there is an easy-to-talk-to customer service .
My favorite third party reseller for tickets to the Sistine Chapel is GetYourGuide. You can check Sistine Chapel tickets availability and prices here.
Alternatively, you can get your tickets on Tiqets here.
Plain Sistine Chapel tickets bought on third party sites are not refundable.
Way n. 3: Go on a guided tour
A guided tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums is the best way to skip the line at the ticket counter. Prices of tours vary, depending on whether you pick a group or a private tour. Even when it comes to group tours, the price actually varies depending on the size of the group and the add-ons.
Once you buy the tour you have the option of canceling and getting a refund up to 24 hours in advance.
This tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel also goes to St. Peter’s Basilica and it’s a nice, comprehensive tour – and one of the most popular and best reviewed ones. There are several departures daily. For more information, click here.
For a selection of guided tours of the Vatican, click here.
A guided private tour has the great advantage that you still get a guide, but you can go at your own pace. These tours are definitely more expensive than the group tour options, but worth the price if you like the idea of having a guide at your disposal.
This private tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel is an excellent option: it’s a comprehensive tour that also goes to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Way n. 4: Go very early with a guide
The good old trick of having an early start usually works, but in this case there is a bit of a twist.
You can get in the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums as early as 7:30 am. However, in order to have the privilege of getting early access, you have to buy your tickets to the Sistine Chapel through a tour company – in other words you’ll have to join a guided tour.
Tour operators pay large sums of money to be able to use the back exit which goes directly to Saint Peter’s Basilica – which individuals can’t use. This means that early access tours usually also include a guided visit of St. Peter’s Basilica.
These tours are actually excellent. You get inside when there are still very few people, which means you don’t have to deal with a crowded site or elbow your way around for photos. You will also have a very good guide highlighting the most important pieces of art in the museum.
Prices of early morning Vatican tours start at €100, depending on which option you get.
I recommend this Pristine Sistine early morning tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. It’s the one we took, and we truly enjoyed it. The tour is sold on Walks of Italy, which is a very reputable company with excellent guides, and also goes to St. Peter’s Basilica.
Another option is this well reviewed tour here, which is sold on GetYourGuide.
Early Wednesday mornings are good to visit the Sistine Chapel: crowds will start arriving after 11:00 am, once the Papal audience has ended.
Way n. 5: Go in the late afternoon or evening
This is one of the most exclusive ways of visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, and it is only possible between May and October, when the museums remain open until 10:30 pm (on Fridays) and 8:00 pm (on Saturdays).
It’s definitely a bit more expensive than a regular tour, but a great option if you like the idea of having the Museums and the Chapel almost completely to yourself.
Walks of Italy, which is one of the best companies for guided tours in Rome, runs this wonderful Vatican Museums Night Tour With Sistine Chapel which is available on Fridays and Saturdays. The Friday night tour starts at 7:30 pm, whereas the Saturday one starts at 5:30 pm. Tours last 2.5 hours.
You can also consider this Friday night tour of the Vatican Museum which starts at 6:45 pm.
If you like the idea of visiting the Vatican later than usual, plan your trip around it, getting to Rome on a Thursday and leaving no earlier than a Saturday.
Way n. 6: Get the Rome City Pass or the Vatican Pass
The Rome City Pass and the Vatican Pass are excellent options if you want to skip the line at the Vatican Museums and get access to other attractions in Rome. There are various passes that offer considerable savings both in terms of time and money.
First of all, you could consider the Vatican Pass. This will allow you to skip the line to attractions in the Vatican City – the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. It also includes a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica run by an official guide of the Vatican, and available in English and French.
The Vatican Pass comes with an audioguide to help you explore and make the most of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel.
To get the Vatican City Pass, click here.
Alternatively, you can get the Rome Tourist Card, which also includes admission to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
To get the Rome Tourist Card, click here.
Finally, there’s the Rome Explorer Pass which allows you to pick up to seven attractions to visit, including the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums.
For a Rome Explorer pass, click here.
Check out my post How To Make The Most Of The Roma Pass.
Get your tickets to the Sistine Chapel in person
A common question I get is “can you buy Sistine Chapel tickets at the door?”
You can actually get your Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel tickets at the door on the day of your visit. There is a ticket office specifically for that, located by the entrance of the museums.
The main benefit of getting Sistine Chapel tickets in person rather than online is that the Sistine Chapel entrance fee in this case is a bit lower, as you won’t have to pay the €5 online booking fee – so it’s really the most budget friendly option.
However, I would say that his is not how to buy Sistine Chapel tickets. In fact, you are likely going to find a line at the ticket counter, which may move slowly – which is particularly inconvenient if you don’t have a lot of time in the city. In fact, you may get all the way to the ticket counter only to find out that tickets are sold out.
Why risk it, when getting Sistine Chapel tickets online is so easy and convenient?
You will likely see hawkers standing outside the Vatican Museums and other attractions in Rome, trying to sell tickets to the attraction. These tickets are significantly more expensive than those sold on official and third party booking sites, so I never recommend them.
Practical Information For Visiting The Sistine Chapel And Vatican Museums
Vatican Museum opening hours
The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (last access is at 4:30 pm).
From April to October the site observes late opening hours on Fridays, when it closes at 10:30 (last access is at 8:30 pm) and Saturdays when it closes at 8:00 pm (last access is at 6:00 pm).
The Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are also open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm every last Sunday of the month.
The Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums remain closed on 1 and 6 January, Easter Monday, 1 May, 29 June, 15 and 16 August, 1 November, 8, 25 and 26 December.
Best time to visit the Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is a busy spot year round so book your tickets to the Sistine Chapel in advance regardless of when you are traveling. If you want to avoid the largest crowds, try to visit as early in the morning as possible.
Guided tours are available that allow early access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel and typically include breakfast on the grounds, in a lovely setting.
Last time I visited, I opted for an early morning tour that started at 7:00 am and included breakfast. This tour is available on Walks of Italy and you can book it here.
Walks of Italy also runs an after hours tour that starts at 3:30 pm and lasts about four hours, and includes aperitivo inside the Vatican. You can book it here.
Make sure to also avoid visiting on Saturdays, as that is usually the busiest day.
How much are tickets to the Sistine Chapel?
Sistine Chapel tickets price is €17 on the official website, to which you must add a €5 booking fee (total cost €22).
Reduced Sistine Chapel entrance fee for children between the ages of 6 and 18 cost €8, to which you must add the €5 booking fee (total cost €13).
Children below the age of 6 can get in for free.
Audioguides cost €7.
Free entrance to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums
Some readers ask me “is the Sistine Chapel free?” I am afraid it is not. But that’s onlu the short answer.
The Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel are free to visit on the last Sunday of every month.
The museum is free to visit for people which have a certified invalidity of more than 74%. For non self-sufficient visitors, the free entry is extended also to the person accompanying them.
Keep in mind that the free Sistine Chapel tickets for disabled visitors can’t be booked online. You will have to get your ticket at the Special Permits or Reception desk in the entrance hall of the museum, but to get that you will need to show a certificate of invalidity. These tickets are skip the line.
Make sure to dress modestly for your visit to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. his means covering your shoulders and chest, wearing a skirt that is below the knee. Men are better off wearing pants. Visitors are regularly turned down for not being dressed appropriately.
Don’t know what to wear? For full guidance, read my post The Vatican Dress Code: What To Wear (And What Not) When Visiting The Vatican.
People with reduced mobility or on wheelchairs will be able to access the Vatican Museums via a ramp and once inside there are several elevators and lifts that take to the various floors.
To get to the Sistine Chapel there are two flights of stairs so wheelchair users will need to use of the elevator. Disabled toilets are available throughout the Vatican Museums.
Guide dogs are allowed to enter the museum.
No matter what kind of tickets you have, you’ll have to go through a metal detector. To speed up the security checks, avoid bringing objects such as large umbrellas, sticks (unless walking sticks), selfie sticks and tripods – you’ll have to leave them at the cloakroom anyways.
Photography and drawing
Photos are not allowed at the Sistine Chapel. Photos of the Vatican Museum are allowed only for personal use. The use of flash is not allowed, as well as that of tripods and selfie sticks.
Drawings are allowed only after having obtained a special permission by the Directorate of the Vatican Museums, or for students enrolled at the Rome Academy of Fine Arts.
Toilets and other facilities
Toilets, disabled toilets and baby changing facilities can be found throughout the museums. You will also find a cafeteria and souvenir shops inside the museums.
You have to leave bags, backpacks or trolleys at the cloakroom. This is free of charge.
How to get to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museums
The easiest way to get to the Vatican Museums is by subway – you need to take Line A and get off at either Ottaviano or Cipro, both around a ten minute walk.
Various buses will take you there too: you can take bus number 49 which stops in the square right in front of the Vatican Museums, or buses 32, 81, and 982 which all stop at the nearby Piazza del Risorgimento. Buses 492 and 990 stop at Via Leone IV and Via degli Scipione respectively.
If you want to take the tram, hop on number 19 and get off at Piazza del Risorgimento.
It will take you roughly 25 minutes walk from the Pantheon, and 30 minutes from the Trevi Fountain. St. Peter’s Square is a 15 minutes walk away.
Make sure to check out my itineraries and other posts about Rome’s best attractions:
- 18 Useful Things To Know Before Visiting Rome
- The Best Things To Do In Rome
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines
- A Guide To Visiting The Pantheon, Rome + What You Should Know About Pantheon Tickets
- How To Skip The Line At St. Peter’s Basilica
- How To Visit St. Peter’s Basilica Dome
- A Guide To Visiting The Colosseum
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days
- A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Rome
- A Great Itinerary For A Fabulous Week In Rome
- 31 Incredible Places To Explore Rome Off The Beaten Path
- 20 Great Day Trips From Rome
- All The Food In Rome You Should Eat: 25 Delicious Dishes